Trip: The L-Town 15 -
Jens Holsten and I have been working on a project this spring in Leavenworth called the L-Town 15. The goal: to climb 15 of the best 5.11's in leavenworth in one day, preferably, with no falls. Yesterday we failed on what will proabaly be our last attempt of the year. Though we came up short with only 13 climbs, it's been an amazing journey, and one that will hopefully inspire others to seek out some of the hidden and neglected gems of L-Town.
Jens showed up at my place at 6am, having biked in from the hills of Peshastin (style points). The link up begins with what we call the Tumwater 5. It's a cruxy morning with the more physical climbs to start the day. First it's up to Rattlesnake Rock, an awesome morning hang, great views of drury falls and the waterfall wall, crisp and cool. It all begins with a couple Dean Hart and Randy Atkinson 1987 sport climbs:
1. Tubbing Der Ritterhof 5.11a - fun climbing with a steep juggy finish, the warm-up.
2. Rock and Rattle 5.11c - one of the best sport climbs of its grade in l-town, steep, crimpy and sequency.
Rock and Rattle's a crux for me, I've only climbed it a couple of times and do not have it dialed, it's really easy to get a nasty flash pump, which is definetly not how you want to start off the day. Lucky for me, this time it went well. Next up, Castle:
3. MF Direct 11b - a well-trodden classic put up by Peter Croft in 1983, perhaps a bit soft...
4. No Such Thing as a Free Lunge 5.11d R - a 1983 Dan Lepeska testpiece.
5. Daz Muzak 11d - the only sport climb at Castle, steep, pumpy and continuous. Perry Beckham 1985, on pins!
MF's pretty cruiser, but NSTAAFL could be the biggest crux of the day. Brilliant and steep face climbing protected by well-spaced solid gear. I haven't stepped up to lead this one yet so it was all Jens.
As the name suggests this route has a wild lunge move, which unfortunatly Jens fell on, and boy was he pissed, he's had this route on lock down in the past but recently it's been deviously inconsistent. He pulled the rope and gav'er another go and fell again, bumming. Uh-oh. We knew the key to this link-up was to get through these 5 with as little pump as possible but unfortunatly it wasn't happening. He pulled the rope again, and fell again, perplexed and pissed, he gave in and tried the move a different way, we had been using this really taxing awkward heel-hook, instead Jens tried a strenuous stem, and what do you know, HE STUCK IT, only to get pumped out a few moves later from all the effort. He lowered off for a break, and I jumped on Daz Muzak. Back on No Such Thing, Jens styled the crux, climbed through the fatigue and sent. Word! I took my first fall of the day seconding with the old beta, before trying the new stem style (a major breakthrough for future link-up attempts). With the Tumwater 5 ticked, it was off to the icicle.
The climbing in the Icicle, begins in the only crag on the north side of the creek that we visited, the Keep-Out:
6. Bovine Perspirations 5.11a
This is an awesome climb, put up by guidebook author Victor Kramer. It starts off with fun crack climbing, to a neat-o traverse, then a series of thin, no-holds, slab crux's. Always on the search for something new, Jens recently unearthed Bovine from underneath a carpet of moss. While they hold the easier grades of the day, the slab climbs we chose are not to be underestimated as the moves are devious and low percentage.
Next, what we started calling the Upper Icicle 3:
7. Lazy Boy 11c - Lower 8-Mile Buttress
8. Mastadon Roof 11c - Givler's Dome
9. Gilligan 11d - Upper Little Bridge Creek Wall Area
These 3 climbs call for a decent amount of hiking with Mastadon being the slog of the day. Lazy Boy is super fun, a surprisingly steep crack line that puts you 20+ feet out from the cliff while being lowered. Another 1983 climb, put up by Lee Cunningham. The zone up there was cool and breezy, quite idyllic, a nice repreive from the heat of the day.
Next, up was The Mastadon Roof, a seldom climbed, Dick Cilley/Dan Lepeska classic. If you ever thought L-town wasn't steep enough, get your ass on this bad boy! My only previous time on the climb I lowered off from the apex of the 25-30 foot roof, completely gripped, pumped out of my gourd. This time I forced myself to stay calm, collected and focused. It's a wild ride...
Gilligan is the newest climb in the link-up. It's a very aesthetic sport climb in the talus above Little Bridge Creek Rock, put up by Brian Behle. Perhaps one of the raddest crux's to send of the whole bunch. I took my second fall of the day on this one. Just when you think you have something dialed... Highly recommended.
We moved down canyon for the remainder of the day:
10. Air Roof 11b - Cal Folsom, 1978!
Jens and I both agreed that the crux moves on the Air Roof are harder than either Mastadon or Lazy Boy. As the old guide says, "an onsight lead of this notorious steep crack is rare." This little bugger's been giving me problems, finally I sent, and damn it felt good. Beware, crap anchors, but they can be backed up nicely with a yellow or red alien.
We moved on to Domestic Dome, for another crux of the day:
11: Domestic Principles 5.11a
This is a two pitch slab climb that Jens links into a single rubber-devouring mega pitch. It's a slab testpiece put up in '88 by Doug Klewin and Gordon Briody. It's hard and devious, ecspecially without the holds that have been ripped off it recently. I beleive I referred to it as an "oatmealy-bitch" while at the base. Nonethless, it is classic, and Jens did an inspiring lead, redpointing it for the first time.
The final few climbs of the day occur in the Careno Crag area. We had sequenced the routes to allow us to climb in the shade all day, with the sun gone from the lower canyon, we were surprised to be sweating bullets in the evening humidity on our hike in. First up a Ben Stanton addition:
12. The Guillotine 11d
But not before running back to the car for the rope. Doh! This thing is cool. Hard, continuous face climbing with sequency cruxes and cool knurly holds. With swollen toes and raw tips, it took lots of focus for us to send this one. Contrary to the book suggestions you do not need tiny nuts, rather, a yellow tcu, and a blue alien.
We moved on to Careno Proper for the final 3 climbs:
13. Pumpline 5.11a - Jim Yoder
14. MJB Arete 5.11b - Jim Yoder, Matt Kerns, Bob Crawford
15. Giant Steps 5.11c - Armand Debuque, Dave Bale
The hike up to Pumpline was hard, we were worked, the sun was setting, and I was definetly starting to question if we were going to make it. Normally, pumpline isn't too bad, but it sure felt hard this time! Once on top, we knew that neither of us had it in them to get on the sketchy MJB, and a headlamp adventure on Giant Steps could be equally dangerous. That was it, done, so close, yet so far. We knew it all had to go down perfect, maybe next time it will. Nonetheless, it was a great day out, awesome training with a great partner, thanks Jens.
It would be cool to do the link-up with an altimeter or GPS just to see what the elevation gain/loss for this day is.